Thomas Paine Park

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Abraham De Peyster

History

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found postedwithin the park.

Who is this monument dedicated to?

This bronze portrait statue, by American sculptor George Edwin Bissell (1839-1920), depicts early New York Mayor Abraham De Peyster (1657–1728). Born in New Amsterdam (now known as Manhattan), De Peyster came from a prosperous mercantile family. In his youth, he spent nine years working on the family farm in the Netherlands, before returning in 1684 to New York. He quickly ascended the City’s political ladder, occupying almost all of the important colonial offices, including alderman, mayor, member of the king’s council, and acting governor. De Peyster amassed great wealth, and by the end of his life, he is said to have been one of the city’s wealthiest merchants.

How was this created?

In 1896 John Watts De Peyster, Abraham’s great-great-great grandson, commissioned this statue for the center of Bowling Green, once occupied by a statue of King George III. Bissell, whose family ran a marble company in Poughkeepsie, New York, sculpted the piece in his studio in Mount Vernon, New York, and cast the bronze at the E. Gruet foundry in Paris. He also sculpted the portrait of President Chester A. Arthur (1898) located in Madison Square Park, as well as that of John Watts in Trinity Church cemetery. He depicted De Peyster, sporting a lavish cloak, wig, army boots, and sword in hand marking his political and military roles.

Vandalism to the statue prompted the resetting of the sword in 1939, and an overall conservation effort in 1942. In 1972, park and subway renovations at Bowling Green forced removal of the statue. It was relocated four years later to a new pink granite pedestal in Hanover Square.

The World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001 again brought about the displacement of the de Peyster sculpture, when in 2003 Hanover Square was redesigned and dedicated to the memory of the British victims of 9/11. After a prolonged search for a new home in Lower Manhattan, it was placed in a recessed niche in the northern pathway of Thomas Paine Park in 2013. On July 8, 2014, the 357th anniversary of de Peyster's baptism, the sculpture was rededicated in the presence of more than two dozen de Peyster descendants.

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  • Seated figure (over life-size) with integral plinth, on pedestal
  • Seated figure (over life-size) with integral plinth, on pedestal
  • Seated figure (over life-size) with integral plinth, on pedestal
  • Seated figure (over life-size) with integral plinth, on pedestal

Abraham De Peyster Details

  • Sculptor: George Edwin Bissell
  • Description: Seated figure (over life-size) with integral plinth, on pedestal
  • Materials: Bronze, porphyry granite (polished)
  • Dimensions: Figure H: 7'4" W: 4' D: 4'5"; Pedestal H: 8' 11" W: 6'9" D: 7'
  • Cast: 1896
  • Dedicated: 1896
  • Foundry: E. Gruet Jne. Fondeur
  • Donor: John Watts De Peyster
  • Inscription: Pedestal front, top:
    ABRAHAM DE PEYSTER/ 1685 ALDERMAN, 1691-95 MAYOR, 1701 COMPTROLLER,/ AND 1708 RECEIVER GENERAL OF THE PORT OF NEW YORK;/ 1698 MEMBER OF EARL BELLOMONT'S COUNCIL / 1698 ASSOCIATE JUDGE OF THE SUPREME COURT / 1700 COLONEL COMMANDING REGIMENT OF MILITIA OR CITY TRAINED BANDS/ 1701 CHIEF JUSTICE; 1701-PRESIDENT OF THE KINGS COUNCIL AND THUS/
    ACTING GOVERNOR OF THE PROVINCE OF NEW YORK./ 1706-1721 TREASURER OF THE PROVINCES OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY./
    BORN 8TH JULY, 1657 -- DIED 2ND AUG 1728./ JOHANNES, COL. ABRAHAM DE PEYSTER'S FATHER/ WAS BURGOMASTER 1673, ALDERMAN 1666-69, 1673-76,/ AND DEPUTY MAYOR, N.Y. 1677./ JOHANNES, JR. HIS SON, ALDERMAN, 1700-1-10, MAYOR 1698.

    Pedestal front, bottom:
    ERECTED BY/ JOHN WATTS DE PEYSTER,/ 7TH GENERATION IN DIRECT DECENT/ RESIDENT OF, AND 6TH BORN IN/ 1ST WARD, CITY OF NEW YORK."

    Sculpture base:
    GEO E BISSELL, SCULPTOR, 1896

    3) [on self-base, lower left] "E GRUET JNE FONDEUR PARIS"

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namingsoften in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, butnot necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the yearlisted reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8163

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